VegHist Ep 15: Liberation. Veganism, hippies, and the animal rights movement

How has western vegetarianism risen, within living memory, from fringe to mainstream choice? And how has veganism gone from nowhere to everywhere? Episode 15: Liberation This final episode recounts the growth of veganism, vegetarianism, and the modern animal advocacy movement. Ian treads in the footsteps of the handful of pioneers who set up the vegan movement in the 1940s, and meets a life vegan born in 1951. He investigates the sixties counterculture that combined the philosophy of ethics, activism, and new ways of living and working, visiting one of Britain’s first vegetarian wholefood co-operatives. And as vegetarian and vegan movements increasingly link up around the world, he looks at developments in China and India. In New Delhi, he meets the vegan politician who is also the most prominent animal advocate in the world’s largest democracy.… more

VegHist Ep 13: The Vegetarians. Abolitionism, colonialism, and Victorian reformers; with Julia Twigg and Bhaskar Chakraborty. In London

In the late nineteenth century, the new vegetarian movement is intertwined with other struggles – including Victorian reformers, the Indian reaction to British colonialism, and most importantly, slavery. Episode 13: The Vegetarians After their foundation in 1847 and 1850, the vegetarian societies in Britain and America rose swiftly faced new challenges. Dr Adam Shprintzen, author of the history of US vegetarianism “Vegetarian Crusade, tells Ian how the American Vegetarian Society poured its energies into an anti-slavery vegetarian settlement in the Wild West. And how its founder, Englishman Henry Clubb, ultimately took a bullet for the union in the Civil War. Under British rule, Hindu vegetarianism faced a mix of threat and opportunity. In India, Ian meets historians DN Jha, Burton Cleetus, and Bhaskar Chakraborty, who explain how, faced with rule by distant Christians, vegetarianism became more important as a marker of caste and identity. Ian also sets off on a cycle tour of vegetarian Victorian London, and talks to the first modern academic to study vegetarian history – Dr Julia Twigg. Play or download (58MB MP3 41min) (via iTunes) or read transcript… more

VegHist Ep 12: Radicals & Romantics. Bible Christians, Grahamites, and Transcendentalists

In the 1800s, overlapping circles of utopians, mystics, and romantics in both Europe and America develop arguments against meat until “vegetarianism” finally becomes a real movement. Episode 12: Radicals & Romantics In the aftermath of the American and French revolutions, the sects and philosophies that embrace a “vegetable diet” multiply – from ecstatic cult to puritan crusades, to utopian community to public-spirited congregation. No longer are they isolated groups – they connect with each other in books, magazines, and letters. Until a single word catches on – “vegetarianism”. In the United States of America, Ian discovers the the vegetarian sword and shoes of a 1790s “free love” vegetarian sect in a local Massachusetts museum, and visits the failed vegan commune where Louisa May “Little Women” Alcott lived as a child. And in Salford, NW England, he walks in the footsteps of a nineteenth century vegetarian church, with local historian Derek Antrobus and the vegetarian history specialist Dr Samantha Calvert. It’s a story that also takes in the French bohemian “cult of the bearded men”, the man who invented the modern idea of Robin Hood, the woman who invented Frankenstein and his creature, Sylvester Graham, and, finally, the creation of modern… more

VegHist Ep 10: Revolution. English civil war, diet gurus, and the poetry of Sensibility

When printing lets ordinary people access a world of ideas, including Indian vegetarianism, some European radicals and diet gurus begin to oppose meat-eating. Episode 10: Revolution In England, the 1600s are a century of revolution. The artisans and yeomanry are picking up books – and the New Model Army is picking up pikes and muskets to turn the world upside down. Ian meets Dr Ariel Hessayon, a lecturer in the radicals of the English Civil War at a Thameside pub that was there during the 1600s, to discover tabloid scares and firebrand sermons about people who ate only bread, and water and fruit. In Ahmedabad, India, he visits the kind of animal hospital that astounded European travellers. And he hears from author Tristram Stuart about the impact stories of India had on Europeans, and how they shook Christendom’s moral certainty. Dr Anita Guerrini researches the first vegetarian diet gurus, whose books about food and medicine interpreted the intellectuals of the Republic of Letters for everyone else. And she tells Ian about the secret religion of Sir Isaac Newton. Play or download (62MB MP3 44min) (via iTunes) or read transcript… more

Kerry McCarthy MP on Brexit

As the British public make their biggest decision in a generation, Ian asks Kerry McCarthy MP about the potential impact of Brexit on animals. Vegan MP on EU Referendum In this special short extra edition of the Vegan Option, Ian catches up with longstanding vegan MP, and main official opposition spokeswoman on farming and the environment, Kerry McCarthy. How does she think animals would vote? (And, for that matter, how will Ian?) Play or download (17MB MP3) (via iTunes)… more